Sweden's representative in the Best Foreign-Language Film category at the Oscars is well-deserving of the honor.
Everlasting Moments (in Finnish and Swedish with English subtitles) has a strong eye on Swedish poverty in the early 20th century.
Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Perbrandt, and Jesper Christensen star in this drama that will especially appeal to women, one obviously inspired by the life of Maria Larsson (Heiskanen). It uses photography as a liberation for its engaging protagonist.
Voice-over is provided by Larsson's eldest daughter (of seven), Maja (Callin Ohrvall), as the Finnish-born mother follows her dying father's request of not ever leaving her husband and man of the house, Sigge (Perbrandt).
Sigge is handsome, brutishly philandering fellow and believes the only kind of real work is hard labor, like the kind he performs as a dockworker. He believes Maria is necessary for cleaning and cooking (she also toils under snobby ladies as a maid) and shouldn't be interested in any kind of career.
Everlasting Moments is solid fare for discerning arthouse cineastes and rather light in action and politics, though new ideologies and a strike take one into the domestic squalor of Maria.
Jan Troell's pristine period piece (bathed in a luminous brownish light) takes off as Sigge is called off to war (not sure which one since Sweden supposedly was neutral in WWI and even WWII). Maria takes a real liking to framing life through a camera, and is helped by a proprietor, Mr. Pederson, benevolently etched by Christensen.
Once Sigge is back from his tour of duty he is ired by his wife being into a profession like photography (one some people still don't see as that legitimate in modern times). The screenplay, assisted by Troell, from a story by Ulfsater Troell, really feels like an authentic snapshot of the struggles and happiness reflectedly wonderfully by Heiskanen, who looks quite good in a hat she hangs in Pederson's shop. One learns what's required of a cleaning woman as Maja takes up this profession like her mother. And, the final act offers a noticeable turn of events that might make some ponder if this is an actual accounting of one's life.
Maybe Everlasting Moments is too female empowered, just from the appearance and manners of the many slovenly men versus Maria who doesn't look like she's had seven kids. Yet, one can easily swab this scab away in this lovingly mounted period piece during a family's tumultuous decade.